Thursday, July 5, 2012

Eating garbage

Think about those words for a moment my friends. What is your initial reaction? Are you completely repulsed by the thought? Do you feel the urge to run to the bathroom and hurl your last meal? Maybe you think that the title is just a clever play on words to use as a segue into a rant about the current state of the economy.  No my friends when you see an article entitled "eating garbage" on this blog you can damn well expect it to mean just that.

Now I'm not going to get into a discussion about all of the starving children in Ethiopia and how tragic it is that so much food gets tossed. I'm not going to go on about all the people who go to bed hungry in this country every night because of "food insecurity". Those things are tragic, make no mistake. But you can read about that stuff all over the internet so we won't be covering any of that here.

In this article we will only be talking about how you can profit from the tremendous amount of good eatable food that's thrown out every single day. In fact there is so much usable food being tossed in the trash right now in this country that you could feed an army with it all! All you have to do is get past any mental roadblocks preventing you from taking advantage of this valuable resource.

I know most of you will never "lower" yourselves to eating food that came out of a dumpster. In fact if I thought that this article would change the mind of everyone who read it then I probably wouldn't post it. The fewer people doing this the easier it is to find good food! But this blog is about Cheap-ass-living and how much cheaper can you get than something that's free.

So if you've never cracked opened the lid of the dumpster behind your local Piggly Wiggly and looked inside then Boy are you in for a treat! Over the years I have Found Damn near everything that is sold in a grocery store. Milk, cheese, frozen pizzas, potato chips, coffee, dry goods, sodas, beer, and tons of cakes, pies, and bread. I once found over a hundred candy bars and various other sweets. Mops, brooms, paper towels, you name it and I've found it.

Canned goods are dumpster gold because their expiration date is usually three or four years away! If you find a load of these you can increase your survival food stash significantly. When you're shopping at the Piggly Wiggly and you come across a can of  green beans that's dented do you throw it in your cart or do you grab the one behind it? That's right, nobody will buy something in a dented can if they can buy the same item undamaged. Since the stores can't sell it, in the trash it goes but there's nothing wrong with food in dented cans.

I know some knuckle head will probably leave a comment saying that if the food was tossed out it's not safe to eat. If this were true then I would have died a long time ago! But I haven't died and in fact I've never even been sick from eating food scavenged from a dumpster. Just use a little common sense. If something looks bad or smells funny then don't eat it. If something is way past it's expiration date then toss it back. More often than not stuff gets tossed because of damaged packaging.

Unfortunately not all grocery stores are the same. Many supermarkets use those giant compactors and crush all of their waste. If the only grocery store within a hundred miles of your location is set up like this then you are S.O.L. But if you can find just one store that tosses their trash in a good old fashion dumpster then you have a potential gold mine. Open the lid and dive right in!

Always be aware of any local laws regarding dumpster diving and act accordingly. If you found this article interesting and would like to read more on the subject then you should read "The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving"  by John Hoffman. If this book doesn't get you excited about the subject of dumpster diving then nothing will.


  1. Bakeries and donut stores usually throw out anything they don't sell that day or the day before. It is a pretty good way to get fairly fresh bread and sweets -- especially in the winter.

  2. The big departmental stores are a dumping ground for the manufacturers of food items. God knows what they do with so much food items which have expired or are nearing the expiry date. They probably return them to the manufacturers for re packaging and supplying to third world countries.

  3. Grocery stores food is insured against things like the freezer going out or flooding, power outages. Grocers food is also paid for before they sell it. They charge food makers thousands of dollars for shelf space for new products, so they don't have to sell the food at all to both make a profit and give the food maker the money they desire from the deal. This is why often you can find perfectly good food with far expiration dates thrown out. It's new items that just were not selling. It's cheaper to toss the food and charge someone else for shelf space - the store already make it's profit.

  4. This is a great way to save some money!! I mean personally I wouldn't go for milk and cheese products when its summer, but other then that I'm well ready to try it. I know at my local bakery they give out bread to charities after hours so a lot of us students go in and share the leftovers with some of the charity workers who where more than happy to spare some, would have never known until I asked... I guess its all about thinking past the "normal" state of mind